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Awesome Interview With Michael Rooker

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The Reaper

The Reaper

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Tell me what's going on with everyone's favorite racist drug addict TV star Merle from The Walking Dead.

MR: There's an actual campaign on the Internet right now, and you can go on and i's hashtag MoMerle [#MoMerle on Twitter]. I said as a joke one day to someone on Facebook, they wanted to know if I was coming back, I said, 'I don't know if I'm coming back. This is when I didn't know if I was coming back or not. I said, Well, call up AMC and tell them you want Mo' Merle.'

And, lo and behold, there's a whole Internet campaign now for 'Mo' Merle.'And it all started as a little joke I made like six months ago.

That�s the power of the social Internet. If they can get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live, then they�re going to get Merle back for Season Two and more.

MR: [Laughing] They�re going to get even �Mo� Merle.

So, when you initially joined the production, was it something where Frank Darabont said, �We�re going to lose you early in Season One, but you�ll be back�? Were you promised time in Season Two to flesh out the character.

MR: I wasn�t promised anything really. I did the job sort of a la carte. They didn�t have a lot of money that first six episodes, and they still don�t have a lot. They�re already preaching, �We�re poor,� you know, but they are. I don�t know what their budgets are, but they�ve got to do 13 now.

And that�s a high production value TV show.

MR: And probably with not a lot more budget than they had in the first season. I�m not sure what it is. I just hope and pray that everything is going to be as good, you know, and as raw as the first season. I mean, it was obvious that he wanted this character to evolve. The way it was written originally, I was only in one episode. Then it was my hand.

So, I only had the one show, episode two, and it was only my hand in Episode Three. So [Darabont] went back to L.A. and wrote the opening sequence, the whole four-minute thing, from Merle for Episode Three. That was freshly written because of what I�d done in Episode Two.

They kept joking with me� I was getting ready to leave. They were saying, �You can�t go, you�re in Episode Three.� I was like, �Right buddy. I�m in Episode Three. It�s my f**king hand.� I�m thinking it�s my hand� in my mind I�m in one episode. I�m literally getting ready, I�m packing, and they�re like �Dude, you can�t go�The script�s not here yet, but you�re in Episode Three.� And I said, �Oh� well cool, okay. Awesome!�

Frank wrote a hell of a scene for you.

MR: He came back and the script was like a four-minute long rant with Merle going through all sorts of mental gymnastics, you know? And it was awesome. It was beautifully written, and I looked at it and just thought, �Wow.�

I wonder what this scene has to say about Merle�s character going forward, because he goes through this sort of delirium and he�s talking to God. It�s almost like a religious conversion of sorts. When we see him later in the series is he going to be this badass? He�s already killed some zombies with his stump, so presumably he�s a pretty serious dude, but he�s also had this sort of religious awakening. Is that something that�s going to play out in the character somewhere?

MR: You know, I e-mailed Frank and I said, �What�s going to happen?� but he hasn�t gotten back to me. Whatever happens, I think that we�ve touched on some really cool ideas and moments in that speech. You know, the whole religious thing was wonderful to bring out. I would love to see hints of that later on, you know. I�d like to see hints of that kind of stuff. His desire to be the boss and in charge. And his knowledge of democracy, which is a gun in one hand and raise your hands or I�ll shoot you. You vote for me or you�re dead.

That�s interesting because there�s this little movement online that�s asking, �Is Merle going to be The Governor?�

MR: It doesn�t seem like Merle is The Governor. Merle is Merle. I think if I come back, I�m going to be even bigger than The Governor. [Laughing]

Because what they�ve done, in a very interesting way, is synthesized some of the characters from the comics into composite characters on the show.

MR: I think they�re going to continue doing that, and my character may end up being some sort of composite of The Governor/Merle/something else. I don�t know. They�re not going to stick to the graphic novels at all. The graphic novels are written wonderfully, but they�re graphic novels. This is little films. This is TV, so it has to be written in that way. Which, they better, otherwise it won�t work really. It�s a different medium, so we have to evolve it and change it and make it work for what we do.

As far as I know, I�m coming back, I just don�t know when. I don�t think I�m coming back in the very first part of the season. They still have storylines they have to get going and all that. I think it�s advantageous for the show to wait a bit� so that when I do come back, when my character does reappear, I think it�s going to be a big deal and there�s going to be hell to pay.

Well, I know people are waiting for it. They�re waiting for Mo� Merle.

MR: [Laughing] It�s fun. It�s just an awesome, fun role. I had a great time doing it.

But you can pour a lot of energy into that kind of role.

MR: It can be anything you want it to be. It�s not in the graphic novels. You don�t have to follow any sort of template. It�s all your imagination just doing it. So we�re going to have fun doing it and whatever happens is going to be cool, because whatever happens is in Frank Darabont�s brain � somewhere back in the corners of his brain � and he�s going to come out with something cool. Frank Darabont, after every table read, his final words would be �Keep it real.� As long as we keep it real, I�m a happy camper.

We�re certainly excited. I know a lot of people have reacted very strongly to the show.

MR: The show is awesome. My character is very well-liked. They love this guy � this crazy, racist, sexist weirdo guy who�s on cocaine�

Well, if people can like The Crimson Bolt, then they can like Merle. I don�t know, maybe that says something about our culture or society.

MR: [Laughing] It totally does. I mean, one of the biggest laughs in Super is when the Crimson Bolt comes out and smacks the guy with a wrench who�s butting in line.

They love it. It�s twisted. It really is.

MR: It�s so twisted.
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